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Hack Apple TV

Make Apple TV play more video formats than those supported by iTunes.

The Apple TV is an excellent little device, if you limit yourself to the Apple universe of music, video, and podcasts. Who wants to be limited? Watch our video on how to add DivX, AVI, and more to your Apple TV. Then return here for the written steps.

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XBMC is free and open-source software for Windows, Linux, and OS X that many consider the best media-center software out there. It grew out of the mod chips used on the original Xbox. Because it can run on OS X, that means it'll run on the Apple TV, which runs OS X.

Boxee, is a service based on XBMC that is currently in private alpha. You can get some free invites at www.boxee.tv/cnet. You'll have to download and set that service up separately.

Let's get started. Make sure you have your Apple TV turned off. Then make sure you have a USB stick with at least 1GB of space.

  1. Download the ATVUSB-Creator from Google Code.
  2. Insert a "bootable" USB drive into your Mac. Most USB drives are bootable. Watch out for drives that have the U3 software pre-installed on them; they're the ones that give the most trouble.
  3. Run the ATVUSB-Creator.
  4. Select "ATV patchstick."
  5. Make sure the XBMC and Boxee plug-ins are selected.
  6. Make sure your USB drive is selected.
  7. And press "Create Using."
  8. Again, make sure you Apple TV is off...remove the USB drive and plug it into your Apple TV.
  9. Power on your Apple TV, and the patchstick will run the ATV bootloader.
  10. After the bootloader finishes, remove it and restart your Apple TV. It now has options for Boxee/XBMC on the main menu.
  11. Click on Boxee, then select Update Boot Launcher--this helps prevent problems with the remote.
  12. Then select XMC/Boxee, then Update, and then Boxee. This will download Boxee from the Net.
  13. Once it's done installing, restart your Apple TV. Then do the same for XBMC.
  14. You'll probably want to explore the FAQs at XBMC and the blog at Boxee to make the most of your new capabilities.